I start this blog with an ending, which is also a beginning.
Last night I watched Julien Temple's film about Joe Strummer, The Future is Unwritten. Near the end of the film, after we have been told about Joe's sudden death (a heart attack while 'reading the Observer'), Joe conveys the outline of a credo in a final emotional plea, with a voice that starts to crack. He says, with some heartfelt urgency: 'So now I'd like to say, people can change anything they want to, and that means everything in the world. People are running around following their little tracks - I am one of them. But we've all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything. This is something that I'm beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. It's because they are being de-humanised. It's time to take the humanity back into the centre of the ring, and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain't going anywhere; they should have that across a big billboard in Times Square. Without people you're nothing. That's my spiel'.
I cried silently when I heard his voice, these words. I remembered meeting him on the train from London to Devon, in the buffet car. 'Are you Joe?' 'Who's asking?' His shyness when I told him how much his music had meant to me, how important it was. He smiled and looked a little wary. Then he shuffled off back to his seat, with his battered guitar, his hat and his cowboy boots. I remembered seeing the Clash play in Brixton: the energy, the attack, the joy of it. I remembered Nicky M playing me her early Clash records when I was at college; vinyl 45s that woke me up, shook me around. I remembered getting stoned and listening to London Calling and Sandinista over & over again, learning the words, the hooks and beats and yelps. Playing the drums on my knees.
I remembered. And all this through silent tears. For Joe. For waking me up again. For reminding me.
The future is unwritten ... It's time to take the humanity back into the centre of the ring, and follow that for a time.